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Knowledge and perceptions about perioperative stroke: a cross-sectional survey of patients scheduled for non-neurologic and non-cardiac surgery



Perioperative stroke is associated with significant morbidity and mortality yet patients may not be aware of their risk or receive appropriate counselling. Our objectives were to 1) compare patient's perceived vs calculated risk of stroke; 2) determine level of worry; and 3) assess prior discussion about perioperative stroke risk amongst elective patients undergoing non-cardiac, non-neurologic surgery.


Over a consecutive four-week period, surveys were distributed at two pre-anesthetic clinics to adult patients scheduled for non-cardiac, non-neurologic surgery. The survey included questions about demographics, perioperative stroke risk factors, patient perception of their quantitative and qualitative stroke risk, level of worry about stroke, and risk discussions. We identified independent predictors of risk underestimation amongst medium- and high-risk patients.


Six hundred patients completed the survey (response rate 78%). Of these, 479, 104, and 15 patients were classified as low-, medium-, and high-risk, respectively (with two patients missing this data point). Most medium- (86%) and high-risk (80%) patients did not identify their elevated risk. Amongst medium- and high-risk patients, independent predictors of risk underestimation were lower education and absence of kidney disease. Medium- and high-risk patients were more worried than low-risk patients about perioperative stroke (median [interquartile range] visual analogue scale score 2 [0.5-4] vs 1 [0-2], P = 0.001). Fewer than half of patients had discussed perioperative stroke previously (40%, 23%, and 12% of high-, medium-, and low-risk patients, respectively).


Patients at higher risk of stroke frequently underestimate their risk of perioperative stroke. The majority of patients had not discussed perioperative stroke prior to anesthetic consultation.

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